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Secondlines

Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is a second-line?

In New Orleans African-American funeral tradition, the brass band plays a dirge for the processional, following the hearse, and preceding the mourners. For the recessional, the band performs upbeat, “second-line” music, celebrating the life of the deceased. Today, the second-line has evolved to encompass almost any celebratory occasion here in New Orleans, including memorials, birthdays, weddings, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and even corporate gatherings.

2) When is it an appropriate time to second-line?

Any celebratory occasion is the right time for a second-line. For weddings, some couples choose to second-line immediately after the wedding for the recessional, leading guests to the reception. If the wedding and the second-line are in the same venue, the second-line may give the vendors an opportunity to “flip the room.” Other couples wait to second-line at the end of the reception (which encourages guests to move out of the venue and to the next destination). The timing depends on the specific needs of your event. There is no wrong time to second-line.

3) How long does a second-line last?

A second-line typically lasts about 20 minutes. Wedding second-lines are usually about 4-6 blocks long. Other parties may choose a route a bit longer, 7-10 blocks long. Anything much longer than that, and you and your guests may begin to tire. Trust us, 20 minutes is a long time when you’re dancing in the streets.

4) Who leads the second-line?

In a wedding second-line, the bride and groom lead the parade, with the band behind them, and the guests following, after the band. For weddings, a Grand Marshal is a fun addition to the party, encouraging guests to dance and get in the spirit!

Traditionally in New Orleans culture, the Grand Marshal leads the parade, engaging guests, and dancing a true New Orleans second-line. He wears a suit, a Stetson hat, a decorated sash, and carries feather fans. Endlessly energetic, with all the fancy footwork, a Grand Marshal can be an integral part of the second-line celebration.

5) How can elderly or disabled guests enjoy the second-line?

We recommend hiring a Pedi-Cab driver for anyone who may not be able to make the walk. One Pedi-Cab can comfortably hold two people. Let us take care of the reservation for you, and you’ll be riding in style!

6) What if it rains?

It never rains on our parade. Seriously though, the weather in New Orleans is very unpredictable and changes quickly.

Second-lines are rain or shine events. In the event of light rain, the band will perform. In the event of a complete wash-out, the band will perform inside if the client has provided a venue.

7) Can I apply for the parade permit and police escorts myself?

The service we offer is truly a worry-free one-stop shop. Of course, you can apply for the parade permit and police escorts online. However, we strongly recommend our parade planning service, which includes planning the route, securing the parade permit and police escorts, and having an on-site coordinator to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

8) I have a small group. Do I still need a parade permit and police escorts?

Yes, the City of New Orleans requires a parade permit and police escorts (two motorcycles and one tail-car) in order to parade in the street. There is no second-lining down the sidewalks.

9) Is it customary to tip the band?

Tips are, as we say, “lagniappe.” They are appreciated, but not expected.

For weddings, it’s customary to tip the band $20-$25 per musician. This should be handed in an envelope to the coordinator or the band leader.

10) Can I request songs for the band to play?

For second-line sets, it’s best to let the band play songs from their repertoire unless your song request falls into the second-line genre. For longer bookings, one hour or more, the band may take song requests. The rate for special requests outside of the band’s repertoire is $100 per song.

11) Can we make stops along the parade route?

Yes and no. For example, if a couple wants to stop by the front of the hotel where they got engaged, or pause in the street briefly to snap a photo (1 or 2 minutes), that is perfectly fine. However, stopping the whole party along the way to get a fresh round of drinks, or to use the facilities, or any other stop that lasts more than a minute or two is strongly discouraged. The police escorts ensure that the parade continues to flow, start-to-finish, without pause.

12) How do we pick a route for the parade?

Planning a parade has many idiosyncrasies, which is why it’s best to work with a professional to help you plan the right route. Please keep in mind that the parade must go in the direction of traffic (most streets in New Orleans are one-way). Also, there is no second-lining through Jackson Square. If your wedding is at St. Louis Cathedral, or in the park, the band will meet you and escort you to the corner, where you will meet the police escorts.

13) What about parasols, handkerchiefs, and other second-line accessories?

You may leave the details up to us. We’ll take care of the accessories for you – customized, and delivered. We also offer parasol rentals, delivered by our on-site coordinator.